Keshav Maharaj’s regularity of wickets was vital in the Proteas’ eight-wicket victory in Wellington on Saturday.
Maharaj put in a Man of the Match performance to claim his best career-innings figures of 6-40 and his best match figures of 8-87. His six-for was instrumental to the destruction of the New Zealand middle order, which saw the hosts bowled out for 171 in their second innings, leaving SA with an 81-run target to chase.
Talking to the media after their victory on day three, Du Plessis expressed the aspects which made Maharaj so deadly.
‘Control‚’ Du Plessis said. ‘That sums it up – he doesn’t bowl a lot of bad balls and if you look at the best spinners – [Rangana] Herath‚ [Ravindra] Jadeja‚ [Nathan] Lyon‚ [Ravichandran] Ashwin‚ they don’t bowl a lot of bad balls.
‘Keshav has brought that consistency.’
Despite the cold conditions in Wellington, which was said not to be favourable to spinners, Maharaj still became the first South African spinner to take more than five wickets in an innings at the Basin Reserve, since Quintin McMillan in 1932. Duminy also put in a good shift on day one, taking his best figures of 4-47.
‘It was surprising given the conditions‚ which were cold and with not a lot of spin‚’ Du Plessis said.
‘But I thought both spinners bowled incredibly well. Their control and consistency meant the New Zealand batsmen just couldn’t get away.
‘Their run rates were very low‚ and the pressure that created chances for wickets.
‘When spinners are contributing like that it makes the seamers’ lives much easier‚ especially with us having to rotate the seamers quite often because we only have three.’
Maharaj matched his captain’s sentiments about maintaining consistency.
‘Being a spinner of minimal variation I have to rely on consistency‚’ Maharaj said.
‘I was just trying to stay as consistent as possible to try and help the captain.’
The third test starts in Hamilton on Saturday 25 March.
Photo:Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images